Colorado’s energy resources are a vital part of the state’s economy, according to candidates running for office in the upcoming election as they spoke Tuesday at the Colorado Candidates Energy Forum. And balance could be the key to making sure that demands from various stakeholders are satisfied, Governor John Hickenlooper said.
“We need to make sure that everyone [with a stake in the debate] is in the room, and we need to govern from the middle,” Hickenlooper said, adding that it was important to compromise.
“They might say that it’s not their first choice, but it’s something they can live with,” he said.
A veritable boom in drilling is taking place in the state, Hickenlooper said, and that is putting drilling operations in Colorado’s Front Range and Western Slope in close proximity to residential neighborhoods in nearby municipalities. That led to the creation of voter initiatives earlier this year that were scheduled for November. The initiatives would have prevented drilling near existing residences and, in some cases, made drilling in the area impossible due to the size of setbacks. Industry responded with initiatives of their own that would have cut off funds to municipalities in the state if drilling was prohibited in or near municipalities.
The initiatives were dropped last summer when Hickenlooper appointed a task force to work with the energy industry and environmental groups on solutions that would allow for drilling, while minimizing the impact on the environment and existing communities. However, energy companies were already working to reduce their footprint, even as they expanded their drilling operations close to municipalities in the area.
“Collecting tanks are being hidden behind berms and kept out of sight, other infrastructure is often hidden or buried, and truck traffic in the area has been reduced,” Hickenlooper noted.
There is a lot at stake, for the energy industry contributes tens of billions of dollars to the state economy, Hickenlooper said. At the same time, however, environmental and quality-of-life issues cannot be ignored, either.
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